|Laos (laʊz, laʊs)|
|Official name: People's Democratic Republic of Laos a republic in SE Asia: first united as the kingdom of Lan Xang ("million elephants") in 1353, after being a province of the Khmer Empire for about four centuries; made part of French Indochina in 1893 and gained independence in 1949; became a republic in 1975. It is generally forested and mountainous, with the Mekong River running almost the whole length of the W border. Official language: Laotian. Religion: Buddhist majority, tribal religions. Currency: kip. Capital: Vientiane. Pop: 5 787 000 (2004 est). Area: 236 800 sq km (91 429 sq miles)|
Mountainous, landlocked republic in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma to the northwest, China to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Its capital and largest city is Vientiane.
Note: Part of French Indochina from 1893 to 1949, it was granted full sovereignty in 1954.
Note: Civil war among communist and noncommunist factions in the 1950s and 1960s attracted extensive covert aid from the Soviet Union, China, and the United States.
Note: During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese communists established the Ho Chi Minh Trail through the remote mountains of Laos to channel troops and supplies from North Vietnam to South Vietnam.
Note: The communist Pathet Lao, with long-standing close ties to the Vietnamese communists, have been in power since 1975.